A modern-day renaissance man walks through the halls of Bryan Collegiate. His friends know him as Eduardo Pecina.
The Bryan Collegiate senior is fluent in English, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, French and Italian, is ranked 13 in his class with a 4.31 GPA, plays piano and recently designed a video game.
When asked about his motivation, Pecina said, “I will never stop wanting to learn.” However, his quest for knowledge wasn’t always apparent.
Learning New Languages
When Pecina was in the third grade, his mom received a letter from his teacher saying Pecina was acting up in class and telling too many jokes. His mom wasn’t happy but soon realized his behavior was the result of being bored by lessons he previously learned at home. Pecina’s teacher recommended he learn something new after school to take his mind off of the work he sped through easily in school. His mom thought Chinese would be the perfect distraction.
“I hated it,” Pecina said. “I was like, ‘What is this for?’, ‘I don’t even think I’ll ever use this in the future.’ But then, as the years went by, I got better and better at it. I actually learned to love the language.”
Pecina eventually gained the opportunity to travel to China last summer for the Texas A&M Confucius Institute’s Discovering China program. He developed several close friendships. Staying in contact with his Chinese friends also gives him the ability to practice speaking and writing their language.
Chinese is actually the third language Pecina learned because he grew up in a multilingual home as a child of Mexican immigrants. His home life allowed him to learn English and Spanish at the same time in developing his first languages. Then, after he “climbed the steep hill” of learning Chinese, Pecina said other languages seem easier for him to start learning. Something that he is still passionate about doing because of the opportunities learning a new language opens.
Studying at Bryan Collegiate
Bryan Collegiate Dean of Students Tommy Roberts said that learning foreign languages is a graduation requirement at any public high school, but he said the extent to which Pecina has “exceeded the requirements” by learning several additional languages is a testament to the kind of student he is.
“It seems like he knows a little bit about everything,” Roberts said. “He can talk to anyone about anything.”
The feeling about Bryan Collegiate is mutual as Pecina said he loves how the school is a “small, close-knit community.” He said he built strong friendships at the school that will last forever.
“The biggest thing that separates Bryan Collegiate from any other school is that at Bryan Collegiate you can get to know your teachers and the staff, everybody on campus, even the students, you can know them on a personal level.”
Volunteering Through Language
Bryan Collegiate requires 100 volunteer service hours to graduate, but Pecina said that’s not a problem for most students because they possess a built-in mentality to want to help.
“People don’t even look at the fact that you need 100 hours to graduate,” Pecina said. “People think you get to volunteer for 100 hours at least and eventually you’ll just get carried away and do 200, 300, 400 or 500.”
A man of many skills, Pecina chooses to use his language abilities to serve other by volunteering after school at the Bryan Adult Learning Center and Bryan Oak Grove United Methodist Church’s English as a Second Language program. Pecina said he helps people in all the languages he can. He’s helped people from Mexico, Spain, Brazil, China, Italy and he even helped someone from Russia learn Italian.
“You get to teach someone that’s almost at a level of zero, and you can watch them evolve with the language,” Pecina said. “You see this person [that you tutored] at a supermarket and then you just sit there in awe because they can command the language so well from what you’ve taught them. If you can teach them the grammar rules, they just pick up the vocabulary themselves. It’s just amazing.”
Designing Video Games
Pecina said he’s learned that you have to be a good student to be a good teacher. When he was in the eighth grade, he taught himself to code. Something that started as a challenge to his algebra teacher, when Pecina asked him what would happen if he got his calculator to solve a test itself. The teacher told Pecina that if he could do that it would mean he’s a good student and he wouldn’t care if he used a calculator on the test.
“So that got me interested in it and I began to learn how to program TI-83 calculators,” Pecina said. “After I made a small Pacman game in it, I moved on to the next level.”
Eventually, Pecina began practicing coding in the game Minecraft and participating in computer science UIL competitions. Recently, he created a full-length history-based video game called “A Finish Fable” that he said his little brother is addicted to. In designing the game Pecina had to combine several of his skills, including his dialect skills for the voice work, playing piano for the game’s music and creating graphics that he thinks gives the game a “retro” feel.
Planning for the Future
Additionally, Pecina repairs electronic items and participates in school organizations, including serving as president of the National Honors Society at Bryan Collegiate. In September, he was selected as a National Merit Commended Student, meaning he was among the top five percent of more than 1.6 million students in the nation up for the honor.
“A good planner” is the item Pecina said is the secret to balancing his busy schedule. Every night before he goes to sleep he plans out the day ahead of him. Pecina said his schedule can be exhausting at times when he doesn’t plan right, which leads to him “not sleeping well or eating well.” But, he said it gets better once you learn how to plan.
“The key really is time management,” Pecina said. “You don’t just split everything out in your day. You have to plan out every week. I want to make sure I get everything done that I need to and have space for things that I want to.”
After graduation, Pecina will enroll in the Honors Program at Texas A&M University, where plans on majoring in aerospace engineering. Because he attended summer school classes, Pecina will enter Texas A&M with more than the allotted 60 college credits students can earn at Bryan Collegiate in the fall and spring semesters through its partnership with Blinn College. As with all other aspects of his life, Pecina has a plan for post-secondary success.
“After I finish my bachelor’s and master’s degrees I plan on starting my own company and continuing on to expand my knowledge,” Pecina said.
Children First. Always.
About Bryan Collegiate
Bryan Collegiate High School is a dual credit high school that partners with Blinn College to allow students the opportunity to simultaneously earn high school and college credit. Students select a university major they are interested in pursuing and follow a specific degree plan as they select Blinn courses. Students can earn an associate’s degree at the same time they earn their high school diploma. There are no fees associated with Bryan Collegiate, as Bryan ISD and Blinn College cover the full cost of Blinn tuition and books.